Tuesday was an incredibly busy day for the San Antonio Spurs (and Project Spurs' Paul Garcia who was keeping up with all the news) as they reportedly reached agreements with Tim Duncan, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo and Danny Green in a 24 hour time span. The only Spurs free agent left without a contract is James Anderson, who the Spurs aren't likely to bring back especially with De Colo in the mix. Still, 2012-2013 will look a lot like 2011-2012. That means next year's team will look a lot like the team that won 20 games in a row, but it also means they'll look a lot like the team the lost four in a row to the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
The loss to the Thunder last month left a sour taste in a lot of fan's mouths (present company included). All a lot of us could think about was how the Spurs role players (and at times their MVP candidate point guard) didn't show up when they needed to most. We looked at how dreadful the defense was when Tim Duncan wasn't in the basketball game. Mostly it was just tough to think the Spurs struggles came against the one team they'll have to worry about for the rest of the Tim Duncan era.
What it took some of us a little bit of time to remember was that this is still the same team that torched the rest of the league from February on. As Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe pointed out, it was the best offense in the league all season and that didn't exactly change against the Thunder. Two of their role players didn't join the team until March. Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson became prominent members of the Spurs' rotation without being completely acclimated with the Spurs' system despite having some previous familiarity with it. It's also important to consider that Tiago Splitter has become a valuable role player without having an extended amount of practice time (i.e. Training Camp) to get completely familiar with a system.
They also started a rookie at small forward who is almost sure to make a big leap from rookie year to second year. So maybe status quo isn't so bad because it's status quo with room for improvement. Kind of like a really nice house you buy that has a couple of small renovations but has really good bones.
There's something else to consider here. Often times we hear the narrative that champions have to face some sort of adversity to make the leap to champion. We haven't heard it with the Spurs in a decade because their head coach and three best players all have titles. However, the rest of this Spurs team as a collective hasn't dealt with the adversity that comes with losing in the Conference Finals. Danny Green in particular comes to mind. Green was terrible during the Western Conference Finals, there's no denying that. The good news was throughout Green kept shooting and kept hustling. A friend of mine the other day said he'd rather have Danny Green out there over Richard Jefferson because Green while Green missed a ton of shots, Jefferson just stopped shooting and you'd rather have the guy with the confidence to keep shooting when things aren't going well.
Make no mistake, the Spurs still have holes in their roster. They really, really need someone who can defend the pick and roll and someone who can protect the rim. They don't have that yet. They have one or two too many shooting guards and a lack of athleticism across the board. The good news is they now have a ton of a different pieces to make roster upgrades if they find the right deal. Green and Diaw both have very trade friendly contracts. Matt Bonner's contract has two years left on it but only this coming season is guaranteed. Tiago Splitter has one year left (then he becomes a restricted free agent) and could prove to be an incredibly valuable trade piece if he continues to develop. I don't think there's a coach besides Gregg Popovich that wants to coach Stephen Jackson, but his $10 million expiring contract would be good for a team to trade for and then buy out, thus creating salary cap space for next summer and beyond. There's also that Tony Parker guy, but we'll not get in to that just yet.
I began the day wondering if the Spurs had just set themselves up to have another great regular season, then make it to the Western Conference Finals and flame out like this season. That might still be the case, but the more you think about it, between the lockout and midseason deals that Spurs team was a rough draft of what it could become. A full training camp should do wonders for this team and their depth should keep Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili fresh for a postseason run. Here's hoping next spring's team is the final draft version to this summer's rough draft.
Spurs need one more big. Heywood, Brand, Blatche and Scola are available (or soon to be) via ac.
Hopefully, Spurs will pick one of them up.
If you were the Champion last season, you can stay put and tell yourself don't need a change, just keep the same rosters with chemistry. BUT, you are a team that leaded by 2-0 then losing 4 games in a row! keep the same rosters from last season with HIGHER PAY just don't make any senses. These should not even be considered "moves" if you just hesitate to improve their line-up.
@WOW Completely disagree..young players will improve (KL, Green, etc) players brought in late in last season will become more comfortable in the next season (Diaw, Mills, Jax) with training camp etc.. Spurs were only TWO wins from the finals. Only a fool would think that roster turnover GUARANTEES improvement, especially when said team is NOT under the cap and therefore CAN'T target big stars. Judging by your usual posts, it seems obvious that you are just another completely SPOILED "fan" that isn't knowledgeable enough about the NBA to realize that teams have to work within the system.
@Spursfan66 @WOW Word. Everyone except the big 3 will get more experience from this last season and will come back with vengence! I'm at the feeling that blowing up the team to add a big name free agent (even if we could) would totally wreck our team chemistry. Everyone said the Heat were automatically going to win the title when Lebron joined, but how long did it take? Spurs are a team ball team, but adding one of the big name free agents everyone clamored would disrupt the team play. All in all we may need another small upgrade, but I think we took good steps by bringing the gang back together!
These are good moves by Spurs. Tiago really hasn't had a full training camp yet and actually started last season playing very well (even making free throws), Kawhi contributed a lot last season with the mini camp and will only benefit from the experience he had and a full training camp this season. Jackson and Diaw should be able to contribute more with a full training camp and season with the team. Green disappeared in the the WCF, but had little to no experience under that much pressure until last season, so he should come back better able to handle it this season. Neal also faded in the WCF, but he was playing out of position at the PG spot a lot and also had no experience at that level until last season. With Mills in place and being part of the team from start of training camp, Neal should be able to go back to where he is comfortable and won't have to think about his game so much and trying so hard to be a PG. That should improve both spots.
This team was not that far from the finals. They needed two more wins and two of those losses to OKC were close games. If there had been contribution from the bench like there was before the WCF, the series would have been different.
Finally, this team was just fun to watch play last season (WCF aside). It was just so much fun to watch them play and I remember making a comment before the playoffs hoping they could keep the team together next season. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Can they win it all? Yes, with health, the right matchups and some luck...sure, no reason to believe they can't do it. Keep in mind, this team was one of the best closing teams all the way up to the WCF last season. The weapons and the composure got lost in the WCF for some reason. If those stay...who knows.
I still think there is some kind of trade deal in the future, but even as is, I believe this is a better team than what we watched last season.
Returning the same lineup has its advantages and disadvantages. It is advantageous because there is continuity. The players are already familiar with the Spurs' system. Eye contact is routine and camaraderie in the locker room is there. The young players are afforded the opportunity to develop and grow. Disadvantageous because familiarity breeds contempt. Players may take for granted their designated roles. 2nd, the possibility of stagnation may creep in. 3rd, the team is denied the opportunity of change. As previously stated, in change there is challenge and challenge comes success. As we know, the Spurs is almost within the cap and very difficult to move forward. I don't know how tradeable some of the pieces are but, the Spurs placed themselves in a position, with little imagination, to absorb limited changes in the lineup.
As a result of the wcf, as any other Spurs fan, I am felt frustrated so much so that I espoused a complete breakup of the lineup. But just maybe, with the training camp coming, I will be proven wrong by Green, Splitter, Neal, Blair and Bonner. Good Luck Spurs!
@rtesoro440 Man, the spurs went from losing in the first round to the WCF and you see stagnation and contempt. Are you sitting somewhere with a thesaurus? I truly am not trying to denigrate you, but get some perspective.
No matter where I place myself, there are always oppositions. I was merely saying the possibility of stagnation and contempt if the same players stays together for a long time IF no adjustments are made. I know they were 2 games away from being wcf champions but really adjustments are necesary if they want to accomplish the feat. Maybe, my dear man you have been reading too many horror books but, the fact remains they lost, didn't they? You man, injects the thesaurus, give me its relevance to what i wrote. If perchance, you don't agree with my post, just disrgard it and live in peace. America is known for its openness, why can't you? If you pretend to be an authority of the English grammar, you fall short. You are, man, insulting your college instructor, if you ever reached college.
@rtesoro440 I am an open person. I have no idea what the hell you were talking about at the end of your comment. I respond to you because i am tired of your views about the Spurs. Sometimes , people need to be constructive in their comments. You sir, or madam, are never positive in your comments , and if i were you i would not get too insulting, its not good for you. Most of your reply is absolute drivel.
I still am wondering why Elton brand (if he clears waivers) isn't mentioned more, 1.6 blocks per game and rebounds. He seemed like a flop in Philly but here he would only have to do two things
@inmortal I like the idea of Brand, but Mavs ac'd Heywood to get to Brand. They will probably offer more than Spurs can afford, even if we were below the cap.
Heywood, Blatche and Scola will be ac'd, so we may have a shot at one of them.
@inmortal He'd be a great Spur, but he's not going to clear the amnesty waiver wire. Indiana, Dallas and Portland all have plenty of cap space to place a bid on him. I would love him in a Spurs jersey though.
Can someone come up with a place to send MB and or DB. We have no roster space of cap room unless a few of the guys and guards go. We now have TP, PM, CJ, DeColo, Denmon, GN at pg, or it is MG, GN, DG, DeColo, Denmon at sg, not to mention JA. I am assuming there is a plan, but who goes with MB and DB ? Anyone. ? I assumed DeColo was to be oart of a package to someone like Phoenix, or NY, who knows. How about DeColo, JA, DB, MB to Sac for Jason Thompson. I think the math works. Sac gets outside shooting, it lacks, a replacement big body rebounder, and a backup pg.
@jojo707 Denmon isnt even signed yet And JA is FA VERY likely gone already, and Im about positive CJ will remain on toros
@BhaktaSA I like our team as well, but I hope we add Kaman or that Brazilian center. Someone who can bang inside and be tough.
I like our current team. With a few calls here and there from the refs (yes, I'm still bitter about the reffing), we could of been in the NBA finals!
@BhaktaSA Funny how all the calls the Thunder got (especially Harden) against us suddenly disappeared when they played the heat, and the calls we got all playoffs and games 1 & 2 suddenly disappeared in games 3-6. I have never seen such a 180 in foul calls in my life, and I hope I never see another championship determined by the refs. Everyone knows why it happened and there is nothing that can be done about it but come back stronger...
You know, people will jump on me for saying this, I can't believe I'm saying it because I loathed this guy when he played for the Nets, but signing Kenyon Martin to a one-year Vet's minimum could just shore up that pick and roll defense enough for a serious run this year.
Anyone care to comment (like I even have to ask!)??
@Chris32 At the min it couldn't hurt, although There are a few possibilities still out there I would prefer more
This team has immense heart. While everyone else is joining forces with the NBA's top talent, our Spurs are out there training and playing with an admirable demeanor. I'm proud to say I'm a Spurs fan! We have unfinished business.
De Colo should go a long way in stabilizing the second unit which seemed to get a little flustered against OKC. Maybe Chip will work his magic on Tiago, how good could he be if he had a good midrange shot???